In August, a trial excavation was undertaken on the linear earthwork known as Pickan's Dyke, near Dalmellington in East Ayrshire. This enigmatic monument has in the past been interpreted as a possible early medieval boundary, similar to Offa's Dyke on the boundary between Mercia and Wales, though it has also been suggested that it could represent a park pale defining the margins of a hunting park associated with Dalmellington Motte, or marked a division between land held by the occupant of the motte and another medieval landholder, possibly based at the site known as Dame Helen's Castle. The work, which was commissioned by the Forestry Commission Scotland, was undertaken by staff from Rathmell Archaeology Ltd, supported by volunteers. Matt Ritchie, the Forestry Commission's archaeologist, has suggested that the full documentation for this project be made available online, to provide an indication of the process and structure, in the hope that it can act as an exemplar for similar small projects.
Accordingly, the following documents are available to download. The first of these is the original brief, issued by the Forestry Commission to various archaeological contractors as part of an invitation to tender for the work. This is followed by the winning project design document, prepared by Rathmell in response to the brief. Following the submission of this document, Rathmell were awarded the job, and the fieldwork was carried out. A report outlining the results of this was then submitted, followed by a Post-excavation Research Design (PERD), detailing the proposals for further work on the excavated material. Taken together, these documents allow the development and implementation of a small fieldwork project to be traced, and it is hoped that these may prove useful in developing similar programmes.